“Human freedom is not freedom from conditions, but freedom to take a stand and to face whatever conditions might confront [us]” ~ Viktor Frankl
Remember the nomadic Giusepi Spadafora, the Tea Man? Instead of going west last fall, it turns out, the Tea Man and Edna Lu (the traveling Tea Bus) went south. You can read a detailed account of what he has been up to the last few months on his blog.
What is this thing we call “democracy”. Just as once there was some general consensus about the nature of truth—facts in the public sphere—we once believed we shared a relatively common meaning of the word “democracy”. One of the reasons we (both in the U.S. and internationally) do not agree on how our governments should operate is that while we might call our form of government “democratic”, that is, reflecting the basic principles of democracy, we do not necessarily agree on the set of principles that constitute such an idea. When we use the phrase “death of democracy”, we might not be talking about the demise of actual “democracy” at all. In fact, we might be talking about something considerably more pervasive, profound and, if lost, catastrophic for American society.
“Western liberal democracy might prove to be not
the final destination on the democratic road, but just one of the many possible exits.”
Twenty years ago, in an article entitled “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy” (published in the Nov./Dec. 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs journal), Fareed Zakaria presented a somewhat controversial term he called “illiberalism”. The original article (the PDF of which is referenced here) was originally intended as Exhibit A in a much broader post for this week. However, on further consideration, its length and profundity warrant a front and center prominence the original post design did not afford.
Additionally, take a read through Zakaria’s December 2016 follow-up to the original article as well as both an analysis of and a counter to his proposals.
Next week we will reference these articles in a broader context which considers the possibility that while democracy could be on the demise worldwide, the American use of the phrase “death of democracy” could refer to the wane of something considerably more profound than we imagine.
Traveling the land, this free tea house cultivates community,
health, peace, sustainability, and genuine human interactions.
Follow Edna Lu the Free Tea Bus and her operator,
Giusepi, as they adventure through America.
We introduced our young friend Giusepi Spadafora, the Tea Man, to this community back in January with a follow-up query about possible summer projects for Giusepi and Edna. As noted in his newsletter below (full text included), he is looking for a place to settle for a bit, perhaps for the winter, to write–somewhere in the southwest. Since some of you live in that area, you might have some ideas. If so, and especially if you are not familiar with the Tea Man’s lifestyle and more than a decade of Good work, take a look at his newsletter and the links within it. Giusepi expresses an exemplary lifestyle characterized by small group community coupled with personal responsibility worthy of the idea “We, the People!” We should support him in any way we can. (more…)
“I loathe nationalism. It is a form of tribalism–the idolatry of the century” ~Cornel West
When many of us hear the word “morals”, we often withdraw, flinch, find someone else to talk to or another place to be. In fact, morals, in the simplest terms, only refers to what we consider “good” (or “bad”). All of us hold them (moral positions, that is). We might not talk about them much (in a metacognitive, that is, self-conscious manner) but we express them constantly.
While a follow-up piece around Tim Snyder’s book On Tyranny was planned for this week, given the tragedy unfolding in the Houston area (and the general tragedy occurring in the U.S. in general), perhaps we should pause and give thanks for some instances of Good and the people who initiated them.
This week, on her weekly Action List, under the “Acts of Gratitude” section, Jen Hofmann posted the following entries (appearing here verbatim, but be sure to check out Jen’s list).
Acts of Gratitude Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.(more…)